The NCAA is going to implement more stringent academic requirements starting in 2016, so it will first affect the kids who are starting in high school this fall. Here are the details:
Current initial-eligibility standards require entering freshmen to graduate high school with 16 core courses passed and a minimum 2.0 GPA matched with an ACT or SAT score on a sliding scale.
The 2016 standards mandate the same 16 core courses but stipulate that 10 must be completed by the start of the student's senior year of high school and that all 16 are finished in four years. So effectively say goodbye to the practice popular in basketball of reclassifying to enjoy a fifth year of high school.
And the minimum GPA jumps to 2.3.
According to survey done by the NCAA, about 40% of the freshmen football players who enrolled at Division I schools last fall would have failed to meet those new requirements. Those kids would be the ones classified as academic redshirts under the new format.
By definition, an academic redshirt is a student-athlete, in 2016 and beyond, who meets the old eligibility requirements but not the new standards. An academic redshirt can receive a scholarship and practice with the team but cannot participate in games.
As long as the academic redshirts pass nine credit hours in their first college semester, they're eligible to play in the following season as redshirt freshmen. They'll then have four years to play four seasons.